How to Clean Your Microwave

No stain left unturned.

Microwaves offer undeniable convenience as you can heat your dinner in a couple of minutes. If you have the know-how, you can even cook a few quick meals.

But, ever heard an explosion while heating a big bowl of spaghetti and sauce is everywhere? We’ve all been there. This can be very frustrating because of how difficult it is to clean.

Even if you haven’t experienced any sauce explosions, it’s still essential to clean your microwave regularly. Lucky for you, we know a few effective (and easy) ways to clean and disinfect your microwave.

Why Clean Your Microwave?

Cleaning your microwave regularly is essential. Although it might look clean, that doesn’t mean there aren’t any bacteria or germs hiding.

Studies have shown that even before you open your microwave, you could be exposed to some nasty bacteria. The door handle, for instance is a hot-spot for germs and bacteria. You might not always have clean hands when you open the microwave, so contamination happens quickly.

A very thorough study by Kimberly-Clark showed that sinks and microwave door handles were the most contaminated areas in offices (1).

Microorganisms need warmth, moisture and food to multiply — which is what a dirty microwave provides. Allowing food to splatter everywhere without removing it will cause a buildup of old food. As you heat your next meal, you’re adding warmth and moisture to the mix, creating the perfect environment for germs.

Not only will it contaminate your microwave, but it can also contaminate your food. As your meal heats, it creates steam, which rises and loosens the old food stuck in the microwave. This will cause contaminants to drop directly onto your next meal if it isn’t covered.

You might be feeling food poisoning-like symptoms due to this cross-contamination. It’s crucial to look around inside your microwave and clean every tiny corner or crevice to remove all germs.

Keep In Mind

If you often place uncooked meat in your microwave, regular cleaning is even more crucial. Salmonella and E.coli are two common bacteria found within a microwave (2).
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Ways to Clean Your Microwave

Apple Cider Vinegar

Thanks to its acidic nature, apple cider vinegar is an effective way to cut through old buildup inside your microwave. Here’s how to do it:

  1. Fill a Bowl. Combine equal amounts of water and apple cider vinegar in a microwave-safe bowl. Avoid filling it all the way to prevent any accidental spills.
  2. Heat. Set the microwave to a high heat and heat the vinegar solution for four minutes. As it heats, the steam will help to loosen the buildup within your microwave.
  3. Wipe. When the time is up, remove the bowl carefully in case it’s hot. Take a damp cloth and wipe the entire inside of the microwave. Make sure you get into the corners, top and underneath the turntable.

Baking Soda

If you’re noticing an unpleasant odor in your microwave, it’s time to deodorize. But how? We prefer to use baking soda since it effectively absorbs odors and creates a neutral environment. Here’s how to use it:

  1. Create a Mixture. Start by mixing three tablespoons of baking soda with a cup of water in a microwave-safe bowl. Mix it well to combine.
  2. Turn Up the Heat. Place the bowl in the microwave and heat for three minutes. As the baking soda heats, it will effectively loosen buildup and other splatters inside the microwave. It will also absorb bad odors, so you can enjoy a clean-smelling microwave.
  3. Wipe Clean. Remove the bowl carefully so you don’t burn yourself. Then use a damp cloth to wipe the inside of the microwave. Take the turntable out and give it a good wipe as well as underneath it.

Vinegar and Lemon

Vinegar is one of the most popular natural cleaning products you can find — it’s also one of our favorites. What you may not know about vinegar is that it also neutralizes odors and disinfects. It’s the perfect solution for a microwave. Here’s how to use it:

  1. Make a Solution. Mix one cup of vinegar, one cup of water and two tablespoons of lemon juice in a microwave-safe bowl. The lemon juice will provide additional grease-cutting power while toning down the strong scent of the vinegar.
  2. Wipe the Exterior. Use a small amount of the solution on a cloth to wipe down the exterior of the microwave, especially the handle. The vinegar and lemon will disinfect and remove any greasy marks on the outside of the appliance.
  3. Heat. Place the bowl in the middle of your microwave and heat for two minutes. The vinegar will release steam and quickly loosen buildup and kill bacteria.
  4. Remove. Take the bowl out of the microwave taking care not to burn yourself. Next, use a damp cloth to wipe the inside of the microwave. Then, remove the turntable to wipe underneath and around it.

Dish Soap

Dish soap is something we all have in our homes. It’s easy to use and can add a fresh scent to your microwave. Here’s how to clean your microwave using dish soap:

  1. Fill a Bowl. In a microwave-safe bowl, add two cups of warm water and one tablespoon of dish soap. Give it a good mix to incorporate.
  2. Heat in Microwave. Place the bowl in the microwave and heat for two minutes. If the water isn’t steaming, give it another minute or two.
  3. Wipe to Clean. Remove the bowl carefully from the microwave and wipe the inside with a damp cloth. Pay close attention to the corners and underneath the turntable.


Steam is a natural and effective way to clean and sanitize your microwave. For this method, all you need is warm water. Here’s how to do it:

  1. Fill a Bowl. Add two cups of warm water to a microwave-safe bowl. Make sure the water is on the warmer side, this will help to create steam quicker.
  2. Create Steam. Place the bowl in the microwave and heat for two to four minutes. Check to see if the water is steaming. Once it’s steaming, close the microwave and allow the bowl to sit for a couple of minutes. Because we’re only using water, it needs to sit for a little while to really work its magic.
  3. Remove and Clean After carefully removing the bowl from the microwave, take a damp cloth and wipe the inside. Remove the turntable as well to clean thoroughly underneath.


Lemon works effectively at cutting through greasy spills within a microwave. It’s also super easy to do and you’re likely to have everything you need right in your kitchen. Here’s how to clean microwaves with lemon:

  1. Add Water. Add one cup of warm water to a microwave-safe bowl. Cut a lemon in half and squeeze the juice into the bowl. Add both halves of the lemon to the water.
  2. Heat. Put the bowl in the microwave and heat on high for three minutes. Once it’s done, leave the bowl in the closed microwave for five minutes. This will give it a little extra time to work, giving you a better result.
  3. Clean. Take the bowl out of the microwave and use a damp cloth to wipe the inside. Remove the turntable as well and give it a thorough wipe.

Other Ways to Deodorize the Microwave

If your microwave is clean, but still has an unpleasant odor from your lunch last Tuesday, you need to deodorize it. This is quickly done using one of these methods:

1. Vinegar and Baking Soda

Start by soaking a sponge in pure white vinegar. Place it in the middle of the microwave and sprinkle a generous amount of baking soda on top of the sponge.

Microwave it until it’s warm (about 25 seconds), carefully check the sponge before grabbing it. When you feel confident that it won’t burn you, use the sponge with vinegar and baking soda to wipe down the microwave.

The baking soda will effectively absorb odors while the vinegar neutralizes odors and disinfects. This should get rid of any unpleasant odor in your microwave.

2. Baking Soda

If you don’t have time to clean the microwave but need to get rid of a stench, try this method. Open up a box of baking soda, place it in the center of the microwave, shut the door and leave it overnight. This method is often used to deodorize other areas, such as cabinets, refrigerators and even cars.

3. Lemon Juice

Add five tablespoons of lemon juice to a microwave-safe bowl. Place it in the microwave and heat for five minutes. When it’s finished, keep the door shut for one hour to allow the lemon to deodorize the space.

4. Vanilla Extract

In a microwave-safe bowl, pour in two cups of warm water. Add two teaspoons of vanilla extract and place the bowl in the microwave. Heat until the water boils — about three minutes. Once it’s done, keep the door shut for 30 minutes.

5. Cloves

In a small bowl, add a quarter of a cup of cloves. Simply place the bowl inside the microwave, shut the door and leave it overnight. Cloves have a strong scent and can neutralize odors.

How to Remove Stains and Grease from Microwaves

Did last night’s soup just make a huge mess in the microwave? Here are three effective stain-fighters to try:

1. Baking Soda Paste

For stubborn stains or spills, make a paste of equal parts baking soda and water. Apply the paste to the area and leave it for five minutes. Then use a sponge to scrub the grease off and finish by wiping with a damp cloth.

2. Vinegar

If you’re having difficulty cleaning the door, try mixing equal parts of vinegar and water in a spray bottle. Apply a generous amount to the glass door and wipe with a sponge. You may need to use a little extra elbow grease if the stains are tough.

3. Commercial Degreaser

Having a good degreaser at hand can save you in many situations. For the microwave, we prefer to use the Simple Green All-Purpose Cleaner and Degreaser. Simply follow the directions provided by the product you’re using.

Additional Tips for Microwave Maintenance

Preventing a mess is the best way to keep your microwave clean, but how can you do that? Here are a few additional tips to help you keep it clean:

  • Cover the food: Covering the food you’re heating is the best and easiest way to avoid a mess. So if a slight sauce-explosion were to happen, the cover will help to prevent a mess.
  • Wipe it regularly: This is also an easy way to keep your microwave clean. After using the appliance, take a damp cloth and wipe down the sides, ceiling and turntable. Doing this regularly will help to prevent a nasty buildup of germs and gunk.
  • Go slow: If you’re heating liquid food, such as a sauce or soup, go slow. Set the time and heat to a reasonable setting and repeat if necessary. Spills and minor food explosions are more likely to happen when food overheats.

Removing the Gunk

A microwave is one of the most used appliances in a house. It provides us with an efficient way to heat and even cook our meals. However, it can also become a hot-spot for germs and other unpleasant things.

It’s essential to clean your microwave regularly to prevent gunk, grease and germs from building up. Natural ingredients such as vinegar and baking soda all work excellently at removing buildup from the inside of your microwave.

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About the Author

Amy Anthony

Amy is a stay-at-home-mom, seasoned writer, and a home cleaning and organization aficionado. Amy enjoys having an absolutely spotless home and has worked hard to develop strategies to keep it that way, despite having 2 kids and 3 dogs!